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Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs):

It takes some energy to generate an electron-hole pair. Similarly, energy is released when an
electron combines with a hole. In Si and Ge, this recombination takes place through traps

and the liberated energy goes into crystal as heat.


In GaAs there is considerable amount of direct recombination without the aid of traps.
Under such direct recombination processes, the energy is released as radiation. Such a p-n
diode is called an LED. Note that the radiation is principally in the infra red region. Infra red

LEDs find application in burglar alarms.


The efficiency of light generation increases with injected current and with a decrease in
temperature. The emitted light is concentrated near the junction since most of the carriers

are to be found within a diffusion length of the junction.


In a forward biased LED, free electrons cross the junction and fall in to the holes. Hence,
energy is liberated. By choosing special materials, liberated energy is radiated in the form of

light.
Brightness of an LED depends upon the current through it. The best way to control the

brightness is by driving an LED with a current source.


LEDs have lower breakdown voltage as compared to normal p-n junction diodes

Photo- Diodes:

If a reverse biased p-n junction is illuminated, the current varies almost linearly with the
light flux. If reverse voltages in excess of a few tenths of a volt are applied, an almost constant

current is obtained (independent of the magnitude of reverse bias).


The Dark Current corresponds to the reverse saturation current due to thermally generated

minority carriers.
Now if light falls on the junction, additional electro-hole pairs are formed. It is justifiable to
consider radiation as minority carrier injector. These injected minority carriers diffuse across
the junction, cross it, and contribute to the reverse current. The more light striking the

junction, the larger the reverse current in a photodiode.


The lifetime of minority of is short, but whenever they exist, they contribute to the reverse
current. We should also note that without reverse bias, the illuminated photodiode functions

as a solar cell.
Photo diodes are usually fabricated using a compound semiconductor such as GaAs.

Tunnel Diode:

For a normal p-n junction diode, the impurity conc. is 1 part in 10 8 and the resulting

depletion width is of the order of a micron.


If the conc. of impurity atoms is greatly increased, say, to 1 part in 10 3, the device
characteristics are completely changed. This new diode is called a Tunnel or Esaki diode.

The width of the depletion region varies inversely as the square root of the impurity

concentration. Therefore in a tunnel diode, it is reduced to less than 100 Angstrom.


Tunnel diodes are most commonly made from Ge or GaAs, and have an abrupt junction with

both the sides heavily doped.


A tunnel diode is so heavily doped that the breakdown occurs at 0 V. This means that a
tunnel diode cannot block reverse voltages. The heavy doping also distorts the forward

characteristics, and the diode shows a characteristic negative resistance region.


Tunnel diode finds application in very high speed switch and also as a high frequency

microwave oscillator.
A tunnel diode is so heavily doped that the breakdown occurs at 0 V. This means that a
tunnel diode cannot block reverse voltages. The heavy doping also distorts the forward
characteristics, and the diode shows a characteristic negative resistance region.